I was concerned about the destruction of wildlife habitat, the degradation of certain endangered species and cancer causing chemicals being put in the air, soil and water. In a way, it was weird to think of being anything else. Who could be for drinking water with deadly toxins?
Then I went to college.
There I learned the term environmentalist had little to do with those issues. It was really about “global warming” and “climate change,” which even back then I was skeptical of being manmade. The environmental community did very little to address what I considered to be pressing issues.
Then I started considering myself a conservationist.
Conservation, as I had learned in real-life (not college), was the wise use of resources whereas the more radical end of environmentalism was all about preservation. In other words, the aim was not using resources at all and sending western civilization back to the days of the pioneers all the while ushering in a strange enviro-version of Marxism.
As I addressed in my January column, many in the pro-conservation side of things are so gun-shy of animal rights and radical environmental ideology they push aside anyone who is A. Not willing to kill everything that moves; and B. Even mentions the word “environment”.
While each of these sides have fought their respective battles the real players have been winning the war. Texas is about to be the epicenter over the battle for water as our states faces unprecedented population growth and if you think ducks are going to beat out well-heeled Dallas and Austin-residents who go to the country club with your senator you are extremely naïve. The water has been bought and paid for whether the public knows it or not.
Let us consider Lake Fork for a moment. Three years ago, it reached the lowest levels since it was impounded in the mid 1980s. Due to drought, it has yet to reach pool level and sitting right on the lake is a pipe nearly big enough to drive a truck through headed right to the DFW-Metroplex.
When the moment comes, do you really think the bass fishing industry is going to be able to stand up to the tycoons and municipalities with the contracts?
I for many years was against the expansion of national wildlife refuges (NWR) because they generally take good hunting land and put hunting access in the middle of nowhere or allow only deer hunting on prime duck land.
I changed my mind a few years ago and wrote about it in a column called “Give Me Reservoirs Not Parking Lots”.
A group was (wisely) pushing to make a big chunk of the Neches River bottoms an NWR whereas others had designs on turning it into a reservoir which would destroy its natural integrity. The bottom line was the government would own it one-way or the other. It would be an NWR or a reservoir controlled by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. I opted to support the NWR proposal.
There are numerous reservoirs in the planning stages for East Texas and more pipelines considered for water transfers from areas like the Sabine-Neches corner of the state – my home region. Interestingly, I have found myself in the room on the water rights issue with members of groups known for their hunting membership and those more suited for birdwatchers at the same time.
More of those kinds of partnerships will have to be formed if we have any hope of preserving some of Texas’ natural integrity over the next two decades. I am not suggesting siding with PETA or the Humane Society of the United States. That would be lunacy. However, if the National Wildlife Federation or the Nature Conservancy have the right stand on a habitat or water issue, we would be foolish not to support them. Only with a concerted, focused effort will we be able to get conservation provisions enacted and keep our representatives on their toes.
Why is it that a public hearing on trout regulations packs the house, yet one on freshwater flows to the bays (a much more far-reaching issue) gets only a handful of attendees?
How come a few years ago the sporting industry (with the exception of TF&G) nearly crucified writer Jim Zumbo for his negative opinion of hunting with ARs but have said virtually nothing about projects like the Trans-Texas Corridor that, if enacted, would wipe out 500,000 plus acres of Texas wildlife habitat without any coinciding development factored in? That is not capitalism. It is government padding their own pockets and those of their campaign donors.
Maybe the real threat isn’t the loony animal rights activists holding signs but entrenched bureaucracy willing to sell us down the river for political gain. While the “environmentalists” have been worshipping at the altar of Al Gore and “global warming” and the “conservationists” have been focused on their pet issues, I wonder how many cancer and birth defect causing agents of slid right by us into our water, soil and air.
I was an environmentalist.
Then I became a conservationist.
Now I just consider myself a Texan, ready – maybe for the first time – to take an honest look at a coming storm and make a stand wherever necessary on behalf of our wildlife.